NEW YORK (AP) — Now that New York Jets star Braylon Edwards has resolved his drunken driving case, he’ll have to head for court in Cleveland to find out whether he’s violated his probation in a nightclub dust-up there, with jail a possibility if a judge finds he did break probation.
Cleveland Municipal Court officials have set an Aug. 8 hearing, though it could be just a first step to a determination, court spokesman Ed Ferenc said Monday. Edwards’ lawyer, Peter M. Frankel, declined to comment.
The added legal twist comes at a high-stakes moment for the wide receiver, who is scheduled to become a free agent as the NFL’s 4½-month lockout ends. Players voted to approve a new contract Monday, days after owners approved a tentative agreement to halt the longest work stoppage in league history.
As Edwards pleaded guilty Friday in New York to a misdemeanor driving while intoxicated charge, he said he wanted to wrap up the case before free agency opened. That case will be closed without jail time or probation if he meets conditions that include paying a $500 fine and staying in an NFL substance-abuse counseling program.
“Now it’s really time to focus on football again,” he said Friday.
But he will have to take time out for a detour to Cleveland, where he pleaded no contest in January 2010 to a misdemeanor aggravated disorderly conduct charge after being accused of punching a friend of former Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James’. Edwards, then playing for the Cleveland Browns, was traded to the Jets two days after the October 2009 episode.
In pleading no contest, Edwards said he was seeking to avoid the distraction of a trial so he could dedicate himself to football.
A Cleveland judge put Edwards on probation for 18 months, fined him $1,000 and gave him a suspended 180-day jail sentence. He could conceivably have to serve that sentence if he’s found to have violated his probation, though a judge wouldn’t have to impose any jail time.
Then Edwards, 28, was pulled over in Manhattan in September, with teammates D’Brickashaw Ferguson and defensive end Vernon Gholston among the passengers in his Land Rover. Police said his blood-alcohol level was twice the legal limit.
He called his plea deal “a fair conclusion” to the case.
It’s unclear whether it might net Edwards a league suspension as well as further legal entanglements in Cleveland. Frankel has said he hoped the league and Cleveland authorities would take note of Edwards’ charitable activities; his Braylon Edwards Foundation gives scholarships and contributes to health and hunger-prevention groups.
Edwards had 53 catches for 904 yards and seven touchdowns this past season, and he made a key catch to set up the Jets’ game-winning field goal over the Indianapolis Colts in the final minute of an AFC wild card playoff game. He has said he’d like to stay with the Jets.
Meanwhile, he got into a minor car crash in Detroit last month. Police said no tickets were issued, alcohol didn’t appear to be a factor and neither Edwards nor his passenger was hurt.
Jennifer Peltz can be reached at http://twitter.com/jennpeltz.